Definition of undertow in English:



  • 1

    ‘I was swept away by the undertow’
    another term for rip current, used in the incorrect belief that rip currents drag swimmers below the surface
    • ‘And, as each wave retreats, there is a vicious undertow.’
    • ‘The undertow here's strong, and it'll sweep you out to sea before you know it.’
    • ‘He swam across the river easily, even though the undertow beneath could be fatal to someone who was not a strong swimmer.’
    • ‘It would be quite possible for the shallow boat, affected only by the top current, to be swept away by a ‘huge mass’ being dragged along by the undertow.’
    • ‘It was far away, almost out of sight, and the undertow threatened to pull her down at any moment.’
    • ‘Like undertow at a beach, you find yourself being drawn out to places you don't want to be without realizing it.’
    • ‘Some people mistakenly call this an undertow, but there's no undercurrent, just an offshore current.’
    • ‘There's been a high undertow and rip currents there.’
    • ‘Sometimes he tells himself he's not going to follow them, but the current is too strong, the undertow too fierce.’
    • ‘But like the undertow of a giant tidal wave, the massive media exposure couldn't exist without a backlash.’
    • ‘As a wave lifts him he grips onto a rocky ledge and is pulled back by the undertow.’
    • ‘Jenny screamed, being dragged under by the massive undertow.’
    • ‘The water then withdraws (the backwash) either as undertow (sheetflow near the sea bed) or in localized currents known as rip currents.’
    • ‘It was like a flood, like being trapped in the undertow of a tsunami.’
    • ‘Yet they delighted in the constant movement of the ocean, fascinated by the pounding waves and pulling undertows.’
    • ‘There are some rapids downstream, and one of the kayakers seems to get caught in the undertow for a few minutes.’
    • ‘She hit the sandy ground, and got pulled out with the undertow.’
    • ‘Before they know it, they're caught in the undertow.’
    • ‘Struggling against the current, he was overcome by the undertow several times before he managed to swim with the child to where the boys waited.’
    • ‘Raise your arm for help, and float with the current or the undertow.’
    1. 1.1An implicit quality, emotion, or influence underlying the superficial aspects of something and leaving a particular impression.
      ‘there's a dark undertow of loss that links the novel with earlier works’
      • ‘Unhappily for your daughter, she is in the undertow of abuse, loss, and possibly guilt.’
      • ‘Amid the laughter, the melodrama and hysteria, this is a play with a terrible, almost frightening undertow of sadness and helplessness.’
      • ‘There will be no big themes, no gripping emotional undertow, no feeling of the pain.’
      • ‘The undertow of hopelessness threatens to lead many to despair.’
      • ‘There is a dark undertow to the book.’